By Charles Glover, Jr.
At a press conference held in the NBA’s Manhattan office on Tuesday afternoon, Commissioner Adam Silver announced an immediate lifetime ban to Clippers’ owner Donald Sterling from all NBA activities, facilities and involvement with the league. He also imposed a $2.5 million fine and an urging to the owners to vote for Sterling to sell the Clippers,
“The man whose voice is heard on the recording is Mr. Sterling. And the hateful opinions voiced by that man are those of Mr. Sterling,” Silver stated in announcing the swift, decisive penalty that he meted out. “The views expressed by Mr. Sterling are deeply offensive and harmful. Mr. Sterling did admit that it was his voice on the recording. He did not share any other views with me.”
Silver also expressed his own personal disdain for Sterling’s comments and apologized on the NBA’s behalf. After Silver announced Sterling’s punishment, he took numerous questions from the attending media. Among the first questions Silver addressed was one about why Sterling had not been penalized by the NBA before, to which Silver responded:
“I cannot speak to what happened in the past, all I can say is once the NBA was provided with specific evidence, we responded.”
Silver was clear and concise with his responses to the many questions, after he overcame initial nervousness. He also expressed that he has had brief contact with Sterling’s camp prior to his announcement. There has been little public reaction from Sterling’s camp in wake of this controversy, yet there are many who believe he may not be willing to cooperate with the selling of his team. When asked about the league-wide support from the owners to force Sterling to sell, Silver answered:
“I have spoken with several owners and I have their full support.”
Silver’s firm decision has been met with widespread approval. Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson has been working with the National Basketball Association Players Association (NBAPA) and the commissioner as this crisis exploded. Shortly after Silver’s press conference, Johnson spoke to a gathering and delivered this message:
“I believe today stands as one of those great moments where sports once again transcends, where sports provides a place for fundamental change on how our country should think and act. There will be zero tolerance for institutional racism. ”
Numerous players and fans took to social media to voice an instant endorsement of Sterling’s stiff punishment. Magic Johnson, whose picture with Sterling’s ex-girlfriend on Instagram was mentioned on the recordings tweeted: “Now the Clippers players can concentrate on tonight’s game against the Warriors.” As for the Los Angeles Clippers, they hope this will allow the team to focus on the playoff series at hand. They released a statement shortly after the ruling that read:
“We wholeheartedly support and embrace the decision by the NBA and Commissioner Adam Silver. Now the healing process begins.” The Clippers also posed a message on the team website reading: “We are one.”
The Clippers continue their series tonight, tied at 2 wins a piece, with the Golden State Warriors. Most of the players for the Clippers have agreed to allow coach Doc Rivers to make most of the public statements for them during about this scandal, but the team has consistently stated that their focus is on winning a championship this season. They now know that Sterling will not be able to be present at any way going forward to distract them from their goal.
The focus now shifts to the owners’ vote to oust Sterling from their exclusive ranks. A reporter from Harlem asked the commissioner about the prospect of more minority owners in wake of this crisis. Silver shared that a few former players like Shaquille O’Neal, and David Robinson are current minority owners and reminded the gathering that Michael Jordan is a majority owner. Several owners, led by Michael Jordan, expressed immediate disgust with Sterling’s comments and those owners will likely be supportive of efforts to vote out Sterling as an NBA owner. Silver explained that the process requires that 22 out of 29 owners vote yes to remove Sterling.
There is no given timeline for this vote but Silver asserted, “The process can begin as soon as tomorrow.” Mark Cuban has expressed some reticence with voting out an owner because of the precedent it might set for future owners’ bad behavior. The collective owners now hold the power to complete what the commissioner started today in removing Sterling from the NBA.
Today was a good start to close an ugly chapter in NBA’s history, but before that book is closed there are still some answers that need to be revealed. What happened in the past that allowed Sterling to remain as owner despite a track record of racial discrimination? Will the NBA amend its bylaws so that nothing like this can occur from an owner again? The NBA has seen great advancements in minority power within the sport, as it is the only sport with an African-American majority owner.
As the NBA continues to demonstrate a desire to improve racial harmony in this country, why not go ahead and change the NBA logo to the Jumpman logo as well?–OnPointPress.net–
Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and a management training consultant. Follow me @OpenWindowMES on Twitter.com.